Mon, Dec 26, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Japanese feel unfriendly to PRC

BACK TO THE FUTURE Tokyo has polled the public mood toward China since 1978, and the latest result suggests Japanese are growing increasingly pensive

AFP , TOKYO

Japan's opinion of China is at its lowest level in more than 25 years, according to a poll that was published at the weekend that showed less than one in three people felt friendly towards their giant neighbor.

The government poll showed that 32.4 percent of people felt friendly towards Beijing, down 5.2 percentage points from a year earlier.

It was the lowest level since the government started polling on the topic in 1978, the Cabinet Office said in its annual survey released on Saturday.

The poll, conducted in the first half of October and including more than 1,500 respondents, had a record 63.4 percent who said they did not feel close to China, up from 58.2 percent the previous year.

BAD STATE

A record 71.2 percent said ties between Japan and China were not in a good state, up 10.2 percentage points, amid ongoing diplomatic rows.

Relations between China and Japan have been badly strained over Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visits to a Tokyo shrine that commemorates Japan's military dead, including convicted war criminals.

China says the pilgrimage shows Tokyo does not fully regret its militarist past.

Japan and China are also bitterly divided over gas reserves in the East China Sea, with Tokyo planning a major increase in patrols in the disputed area.

In the latest friction, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso said last week that China was becoming a "considerable threat" because of its rising military spending and nuclear weapons.

REACTION

The remarks drew an immediate reaction from China, who accused Aso of making irresponsible claims.

Chinese leaders have refused to meet Koizumi, who paid his fifth visit to the Yasukuni shrine in October.

On South Korea, 51.1 percent of respondents said they felt close to Seoul, down 5.6 percentage points, while 50.9 percent said Japan's ties with the country are not in a good condition, up 16.0 points, the poll showed.

South Korea has joined China's criticism of Koizumi's visit to the shrine.

Meanwhile, 73.2 percent of respondents said they felt good about the US, Japan's closest ally, up 1.4 points.

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